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Senate passes bill to establish grants to mentor Utah school principals

The three middle school teachers were first put on leave after they gave students an assignment which asked them how’d they punish a slave. Adobe Stock image

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate passed SB99 on Wednesday, legislation that creates a grant program for the training and mentorship of new and aspiring public school principals.

Sponsored by Senate Majority Assistant Whip Ann Millner, R-Ogden, the bill would allow school districts and groups of charter schools to apply for grants to provide training and mentoring opportunities for school leaders.

In earlier Senate debate, Millner said principals set the tone in their schools so it is critical that they receive the best possible preparation for their demanding roles.

“It’s important that we invest in them,” Millner said.

Currently 33% of Utah principals undergo no induction experience, 43% have no mentoring and 73% receive no coaching, Millner said.

“They can’t be developed if we don’t support them,” Millner said.

Research shows that teachers make the greatest impact on the quality of students’ education, but principals who support teachers in the teaching/learning process buttress those efforts, she said.

Millner noted the efforts of the Utah State Board of Education to strengthen standards for principal candidates and the board’s work with colleges of education in Utah to improve preparation programs for principals.

SB99 seeks a $15.2 million appropriation. On Tuesday, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted to recommend the Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee fund the program at $10 million, but new state revenue estimates are anticipated later this week and its recommendations could change.

SB99 moves to the House for its consideration.